If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience physical, emotional or sexual abuse or any other kind of traumatic experience – you know how hard it is to overcome these experiences. They tend to live inside of you, eating up your self-esteem day by day. However, as these days, mental illnesses and hardships get more and more attention, it becomes easier for those who are wounded to open up about their hardships. Nevertheless, many stereotypes still prevail, especially when it comes to men’s mental health.

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Matt Brown is a barber whose mission is to help men heal from their past traumas

Image credits: sheisnotyourrehab

Matt Brown is a barber in Christchurch City, New Zealand – but he does way more than just cutting hair. He set up his own barbershop in a shed in his backyard, but fast-forward today – the barbershop has become a whole movement, helping men in pain, to heal.

He set up a barbershop in his backyard shed

Image credits: sheisnotyourrehab

Matt started barbering more than a decade ago. While barbering in Auckland, New Zealand, he realized something – men who come into a barbershop come for more than just a haircut. “Men were coming in and not you know, wanting more than just the haircut, they wanted a conversation. And not many places, spaces, allow men to really open up quite like the barber chair,” Matt told the media. So when he set up his own business, he knew that’s what exactly he needed to do.

But it grew into a big movement called ‘She Is Not Your Rehab’

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Matt’s business, My Father’s Barbers, evolved into a safe space where men can open up the issues that they have without the fear of judgment. “A lot of my friends were joining gangs, were addicted to sex and drugs, you name it, some committed suicide, some are going into prison. And I just wanted to create a space where men could come and talk,” the barber opened up to the media.

The movement is empowering men to address their past traumas through honest conversations

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He says that men talk about various things, including sport, TV and how their weekends went. But it doesn’t stop there – they open up about their struggles and fears and emotional traumas.

Instead of projecting them into their relationships

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“I’ve had grown men cry; I’ve sat with some of the staunchest, most successful, ruthless men in my city in my chair crying together. This is not a very popular business plan, step one get a barbershop, step two cry with your clients!”

Matt himself has faced some serious and painful struggles while growing up

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He told the media that he grew up in a very abusive household. “When I look back at that, I think it’s so sad no-one in our world stepped in or said anything for Mum, because Mum would go to church like that; pregnant, bruised face, but no-one said or did anything.” Luckily, the young man moved out of his home when he was only 15 and, as he says, he got “proper help.”

He says that his main inspiration was his wife

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“The real change came when I met my wife, who was my best friend, and when you have a strong woman that can, you know, challenge the status quo and still love you and see behind the masks that I would wear and love me still, that brought a lot of change,” Matt shared.

Matt is hoping that the movement will help to create violence-free communities

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He wants men to take their own responsibility for their own healing instead of projecting their traumas into their relationships. “If men take responsibility for their own healing, that will heal the whole family and if women take responsibility for their own healing and do not rescue men, that will heal the whole family because our kids are watching.”

Matt has also given a TED talk, which you can watch below

Image credits: TedX Talks

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